The legacy of the burned building at 80 Albert Street, Marshalltown is one of humiliation, injustice and racism. That’s according to Professor Hilton Judin, an architect and editor of Falling Monuments, Reluctant Ruins.
Last week, a savage fire at the building claimed 76 lives, some of whom were young children. The building which was not intended for residential use was hijacked and housed hundreds of people, many migrants who erected shacks within.
The building was used by the apartheid government as a pass law office and subsequently as a women’s shelter.
Judin says, Black people were brought to 80 Albert street with their white employers and stripped naked as part of the application for a pass.
“They would be taken there by their white bosses who would enter from the main entrance of Albert Street and as black employees, they would have to go through the back entrance, to the main hall, stand in line for hours, in order to receive a stamp or permission letter. So it carries that terrible shared history of apartheid, almost unbearable for most of us,” Judin explains.
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